Omission of funds for deputy raises concerns among council members
Wesley Chapel may receive its own contract deputy sooner than anticipated. The village council held a meeting Monday to discuss its budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, and some council members weren’t ready to adopt a plan that does not include funds for a deputy.
Back in September, the council chose a plan that would allocate $1.25 million to fund its first town hall and $1 million to put toward the construction of Dogwood Park. The council also made it a goal to secure a contract deputy responsible for patrolling the Wesley Chapel area. Having to spend the town funds carefully while keeping money in reserves, the council anticipated adding a deputy about three years down the road.
It was decided that if the village ended up spending under budget for the town hall, extra funds would be allocated to hire a deputy sooner than planned. The village strived to spend funds conservatively on the town hall and did indeed have with money left over from the project. The leftover funds would allow the town to include a deputy in the budget for the second half of the fiscal year, beginning around January 2012.
However, when the budget was presented at the Monday meeting, funds for the deputy were not included. The council voted 2-1 to approve the budget, with member Kim Ormiston objecting. “We need to add a deputy to the budget,” said Ormiston, pointing out that the council agreed at the last meeting to add a deputy if funds were available.
Ormiston’s objections raised questions among the council members, ultimately causing Mayor Pro-tem Sondra Bradford to withdraw her vote to approve the budget.
Prior to the vote, a concerned citizen had addressed the council regarding the deputy issue. The Wesley Chapel resident had recently experienced an alarming home break-in and was adamant that the village hire a deputy for the safety and well-being of its citizens.
Ormiston commented on her objection in a later interview. “This whole endeavor is something the village safety committee has been trying to work towards,” she said. “One of my personal goals when I campaigned was to secure a deputy.”
As the Wesley Chapel area has expanded and added businesses, crime has become more of a concern for citizens. Like other expanding areas, an increase in crime associated with development has occurred in Wesley Chapel.
Law enforcement studies show a particular rise in property crime from 2000 to 2010 in the Wesley Chapel area. Officials predict that the number of property crimes in Wesley Chapel will move from below average to above average by 2015. “The analysis shows an upward trend,” said Ormiston. “In order to curve that, we need to be proactive.”
The hiring of a Wesley Chapel deputy will supply citizens with an officer who will be familiar with the area and keep a closer eye on the community. “We want to make it known to people that we have an officer that’s visible and involved,” said Ormiston.
The interviewing and hiring of the deputy is a six-month process. When hired, the town would work to make accommodations for the deputy, having the person possibly work out of the sheriff’s department or the new town hall.
Mayor Brad Horvath said at the meeting that the council will hopefully find out more information by next week and work toward approving and securing a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.